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Kristi Noem Killed Her Dog. Why Is This Story in Her Book?

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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Witness Kristi Noem, Governor, South

Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Despite being banned from a chunk of her own state, holding extreme anti-abortion views, and getting sued over a weird infomercial-style plug for her dentist, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem still appears to be hovering near the top of Donald Trump’s VP shortlist — but maybe not for long!

Noem’s book No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward is set to be published on May 7. As you can tell from that title, this is one of those books politicians typically release when they’re campaigning to be selected as their party’s vice-presidential nominee. But The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly obtained a copy of the book and found it contains a very atypical anecdote about Noem killing her dog.

Perhaps you’re thinking, Come on — it can’t be that bad! I assure you it is. I bet the dog was old. It was a 14-month-old puppy. Well, the dog was probably sick. She was healthy and “having the time of her life.” The dog must have mauled a kid or something. She just killed some chickens, after being trained to hunt birds. Surely Noem found a humane way to put the dog down. She took the dog to a gravel pit and fatally shot it. Okay, but at least Noem loved her dog? “I hated that dog,” Noem writes.

Here’s the full story, per The Guardian:

“Cricket was a wirehair pointer, about 14 months old,” the South Dakota governor writes in a new book, adding that the dog, a female, had an “aggressive personality” and needed to be trained to be used for hunting pheasant.

By taking Cricket on a pheasant hunt with older dogs, Noem says, she hoped to calm the young dog down and begin to teach her how to behave. Unfortunately, Cricket ruined the hunt, going “out of her mind with excitement, chasing all those birds and having the time of her life.”

Noem describes calling Cricket, then using an electronic collar to attempt to bring her under control. Nothing worked. Then, on the way home after the hunt, as Noem stopped to talk to a local family, Cricket escaped Noem’s truck and attacked the family’s chickens, “grabb[ing] one chicken at a time, crunching it to death with one bite, then dropping it to attack another.”

Cricket the untrainable dog, Noem writes, behaved like “a trained assassin.”

When Noem finally grabbed Cricket, she says, the dog “whipped around to bite me.” Then, as the chickens’ owner wept, Noem repeatedly apologised, wrote the shocked family a check “for the price they asked, and helped them dispose of the carcasses littering the scene of the crime.”

Through it all, Noem says, Cricket was “the picture of pure joy”.

“I hated that dog,” Noem writes, adding that Cricket had proved herself “untrainable,” “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with” and “less than worthless … as a hunting dog.”

Noem writes that she “realized I had to put her down,” so she got her gun and led Cricket to a gravel pit. “It was not a pleasant job,” she writes, “but it had to be done. And after it was over, I realized another unpleasant job needed to be done.”

Oh, you thought this bloody tale of animal cruelty was done? Nope! Noem then decided she had to murder the family’s “nasty and mean” goat, too, so she dragged it to the same gravel pit and took a shot — but the goat jumped away and survived. As Noem went back to get another shell from her truck, she noticed a construction crew saw her kill both animals. Then her kids’ school bus pulled up.

“Kennedy looked around confused,” Noem writes of her daughter, who asked: “Hey, where’s Cricket?”

On Friday afternoon, Noem suggested on X that anyone upset by her folksy tale of puppy murder just doesn’t understand how things work in Real America:

Sure, most journalists I know have never fatally shot a pet — but neither have the majority of American voters, whom this book is clearly meant to appeal to. So why did Noem include this story in her book? Here, some possible explanations:

This is actually the reason Noem provides in the book. “I guess if I were a better politician I wouldn’t tell the story here,” she writes.

Indeed, you don’t have to be a keen political analyst to predict that a story about hurting dogs wouldn’t go over well with Americans. You just have to be a person who was alive in 2012 and remembers Mitt Romney being roasted for making his diarrhea-ridden dog ride on the roof of the family car. Or even someone who knows the plot of 101 Dalmatians.

According to The Guardian, the point of Noem’s story is that she’ll do anything “difficult, messy and ugly” if it simply needs to be done. Presumably, there was a less upsetting way for her to express this. Unless …

The GOP’s vice-presidential nominee isn’t going to be selected via a nationwide vote; the decision comes down to one guy who reportedly thinks owning pets is “low class.” Julie Alderman Boudreau, presidential-research director for American Bridge 21st Century, offered this explanation:

This is an intriguing idea, but eventually wussy, animal-loving Americans will get a say on who winds up in the White House. And presumably the only pet story the Trump team wants to talk about over the next six months is Biden’s bite-y (yet still living) dog.

Is Noem’s tale an intentional act of self-sabotage? That’s the theory put forth by Semafor’s Benjy Sarlin:

Why fade away into obscurity when you can make yourself a political legend as the GOP’s own Cruella de Vil?


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